Selecting a college was no easy chore for Solon two-sport standout Connor Ham.
Even harder than picking a destination for Ham was trying to decide what sport to pursue at the next level.
Once Ham found the right college, the dilemma of choosing between football and track went out the window.
Ham signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his career at Northern Iowa on Friday and will participate in both sports for the Panthers beginning in the fall.
“It was kind of weighing on me, what sport I wanted to do, what I liked most and what I saw myself as,” Ham said. “Luckily Northern Iowa gave me a chance to show I could do both and that made it a lot easier.”
Over the past two years, Ham established himself as a college prospect in football and track.
Last spring Ham won two individual titles at the Class 3A state track meet while helping Solon to the 3A team title.
Ham won the 110 hurdles for the second straight year, setting the state meet record of 14.03 in the preliminaries.
He added an individual title in 200 meters and ran on a pair of Solon relays that earned top-three finishes at last year’s state meet.
“He’s his biggest critic and best coach because he sees things in his hurdling and his running that no one else sees,” Solon track coach Mark Sovers said. “He’s always analyzing and always trying to improve and that’s what I appreciate the most.”
This fall, the 6-2, 180-pound Ham led Solon with 32 receptions for 245 yards as a wide receiver and also finished third on the team with 34 tackles from his defensive back spot.
Ham added 293 rushing yards and five touchdowns and returned a kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown as Solon went 9-2 and advanced to the second round of the 3A playoffs.
“He’s a talented young man, he’s a hard worker who has committed and dedicated himself to improving as an athlete,” Solon football coach Kevin Miller said. “It says a lot about him as an athlete the ability to play football and run track it speaks highly of his versatility.”
This spring, Ham has the second fastest 110 hurdle time in the state at 14.3 seconds and will try to win his third straight state crown in the event next month.
“He’s always looking for places to grow,” Sovers said. “He looks for that opportunity that is going to help him get to the next level.”
When it came to selecting a college, Ham couldn’t come to grips with giving up one of the two sports.
Northern Iowa expressed interest in allowing Ham to pursue both sports, and he jumped at the chance.
“It’s really natural for me,” Ham said of doing two sports. “It would probably feel more strange to just be doing one sport, it’s always been two sports and it’s more fun that way.”
Ham said he will do whatever is asked of him at Northern Iowa in either sport, but said he plans to run the hurdles and was recruited as a wide receiver.
Northern Iowa is coming off a 9-5 season in which it advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs.
“I feel like I have a lot of learning to do ahead of me,” Ham said. “I know that I have to get bigger, stronger and faster but I’m excited to see what I can do.”
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.